10/27/2020

PayPal: Selling Honey Without the Other Ingredient

A couple weeks ago I wrote about an email from PayPal selling Honey without communicating a value proposition. Over the weekend, I received this email:

PayPal Honey Value Prop email

PayPal explains Honey in one sentence, "Install Honey in just two clicks so when you shop online you can automatically get some of the best prices from over 30,000 online retailers." That is a well-worded product value proposition. 

Where the prior email encouraged immediacy but lacked a value proposition, this email includes a value proposition does did not encourage immediacy in the call to action. As I draft this post, the $5 bonus offer appears to still be active. Perhaps they have not reached the limit of 40,000 new customers eligible for the offer they mentioned in their first email.

Here's an idea: Combine the value proposition and encourage immediacy in a single communication by explaining the product then closing with a $5 bonus offer. The email could be summed up in a few sentences:

"Install Honey in just two clicks so when you shop online you can automatically get some of the best prices from over 30,000 online retailers. Hurry -- the first 40,000 people to install Honey and make a purchase of $10 or more will receive a $5 bonus."

Will you get that $5 bonus in addition to shopping online with Honey? I don't know, but you should make sure your email isn't a Fail. Act now!

Lesson:

Communicating a value proposition is important, but so is giving the customer a reason to take action now.

10/25/2020

Caviar: What Is It?

Two postcards arrived within a day of each other. One includes elements Targeting, Offer, Creative, Timing, Execution, and Tracking that can make direct mail successful; the other Fails in multiple ways.

freshdirect new customer offer

freshdirect new customer offer

This postcard from freshdirect reflects smart use of these elements, specifically:

  • Targeting: No one at the targeted home has purchased from freshdirect. The targeted home is in a freshdirect delivery area and in a zip code where overall use of grocery delivery has increased.

  • Offer: There is a new customer incentive of $25 off the new customer's first purchase, -- a good reason to to give freshdirect a try. Plus, the offer is valid for about three weeks from the postcard's in-home date, motivating that customer to take action right away.

  • Creative: The 5 1/2" x 10 1/2" postcard clearly communicates its sales proposition both visually and in prose. One side of the postcard succinctly communicates the service provided, and even includes a tag line to reinforce the sales proposition. The address side includes the call to action and supporting benefits messages. The incentive is unambiguous -- at a glance, the reader knows what it is, the value, when to use it, and how to take advantage of it

  • Timing: Mid-October is likely the last time of year to mail and avoid the oncoming clutter associated with holiday catalogs and other gift-related mailings.

  • Execution: The postcard was printed with spot varnish to protect the pictures from appearing scuffed.

  • Tracking: The new customer incentive includes a promo code for the customer to use. This promo code facilitates the customer discount, but it also allows freshdirect to track the customer's path to becoming a customer. This means freshdirect can reasonably assume it was the postcard that motivated customer action.

Well done, freshdirect!

On The Other Hand ... 
The below 6" x 11" postcard from caviar is physically larger than the one from freshdirect, yet it communicates much less. From looking at the postcard, can you answer the question: What is caviar? 

caviar new customer offer 10/2020

caviar new customer offer 10/2020


OK, its a food delivery service -- but what kind of food delivery? Does it deliver meals and groceries like freshdirect, in-home food kits like Blue Apron, or perhaps single-person prepared meals like freshly? From the pictures of the kale salad and what I now think may be a poke bowl, I couldn't tell, but a google search revealed that caviar is a delivery service specializing in meals from high-end restaurants. So, I guess it's more like seamless.

According to their snippet on a Google search caviar offers, "Delivery & takeout from the best local restaurants. Breakfast, lunch, dinner and more, delivered safely to your door."  There you go: a brief, succinct explanation -- one that should have been included on the postcard. The snippet also mentions, "Now offering pickup & no-contact delivery.That is an important supporting message during this pandemic that should also appear on the postcard. The lack of a sales proposition and supporting messages is a Fail for Creative. The postcard has plenty of white space, so why not use it?

Also, it takes a pair of reading glasses to review the disclosure noting that this offer is good through December 7, approximately eight weeks after the postcard arrived. That response window is too long to encourage what is typically an impulse decision: namely, what to have for dinner tonight. This wide response window merits a Fail for Offer.


caviar postcard disclosure text 10/2020
The caviar introductory offer is not valid for DoorDash customers.
It expires eight weeks after arriving in home

That fine print also leads to meriting a Fail for Targeting. The recipient is a regular DoorDash customer, making that person ineligible for the discount. 

wondered why a meal delivery service would make customers of a different meal delivery service ineligible for a discount. In my research, I learned that DoorDash had bought and integrated caviar into the DoorDash network several months ago. Here in New York City, the integration did not go well

For the postcard recipient's mailing address, Caviar offers delivery from only 17 restaurants. That’s a small number compared to DoorDash’s 398 restaurants. (Furthermore, all 17 of Caviar's restaurants were inclusive to those available through DoorDash.) This lack of compelling selection might merit another Fail for Targeting.

There is no reason to expend the cost of sending mail that does not communicate a sales proposition with an invalid, non-urgent discount offer to a home that has limited purchase opportunities. If DoorDash continues to waste marketing dollars like this, caviar's days are numbered. 


Lessons:
  1. When soliciting new customers, communicate a compelling sales proposition.
  2. A response window should be long enough to give a customer time to respond, but not so long that immediacy is discouraged.
  3. Mail your offer only to customers who might be eligible to take advantage of the offer.

10/12/2020

Merrell: Well-timed offer lacks expiration clarity

A recent conversation at home went like this:

Me: "Hey, honey, did you say you needed new hiking shoes?"

Wife: "Eventually. Mine are starting to wear. Why?"

Me: "We got an offer in the mail from Merrell for 25% off footwear."

Merrell One Year Discount Offer

Merrell One Year Discount Offer - 25% Off

Wife: "Well, I do like Merrell, but I don't plan to use hiking shoes in the next few weeks. Maybe I should get replacements now with the discount. When does the coupon expire?"

Me: "It doesn't say."

Wife: "Really?"

Me: "I'll look closer." (Puts on reading glasses.) "It says it expires '30 days from postmark.'"

Wife: "When is that?"

Me: "I don't know. It's not postmarked."

Wife: "Well, whatever, I don't need new hiking shoes right away and I'm pretty busy right now."

This conversation outlines why the postcard merits a Fail for Creative

On September 13, 2019, I purchased a pair of Merrell Moab 2 hiking shoes. They are perfect for that outdoor hike around the lake, through a park or in the snow. The postcard arrived October 2, 2020, just a little over a year after I started wearing my previous purchase. So, the timing and messaging around my "Merrell anniversary" are spot on. Kudos to Merrell for Timing.

The postcard included a personalized coupon code for 25% savings; however, there is no mention in the headline regarding when the coupon code expires. I found some information in the disclosure.*

Merrell One Year Discount Offer - 25% Off
Postcard disclosure text

As I wrote in prior blog posts such as this one and this one, a Call to Action should include a clearly communicated offer expiration date. This is important: The right response window encourages immediacy of customer action; one that's faulty or unclearly defined, however, only encourages inertia.

With the Merrell postcard, the coupon code's expiration date is not only buried in the disclosure, it also references expiring "30 days from postmark"; however, there is no postmark. Postcards mailed Standard Rate are not postmarked by the USPS. So, how do customers know when the coupon code expires? They don't.

There are several ways to care for expiration date communication without jeopardizing the integrity of the message, diluting Merrell's branding or adding production costs. Here is one: Include an offer expiration date in the address section of the postcard. 

Merrell postcard mock-up, modified to add expiration date
Mock-up. I added the expiration date in the address panel

In the above mock-up, the coupon code expiration date is clearly communicated. The date is specific and reasonably prominent. The messaging complements the headline and supports immediate action. It can be inkjet- or laser-personalized using the same variable data method as the producing the coupon code and customer name and address. Depending on the postcard's production method, it could appear in spot color without incremental print expenses.

If Merrell adapts this approach, the only incremental edit would be to rephrase the disclosure to reference the expiration date in the address panel.

Lessons:

  1. Your call to action should include a clearly communicated, definitive offer expiration date.
  2. Postcards mailed Standard Rate are not postmarked.


* Many people mistakenly refer to small print associated with marketing communications as a disclaimer, when in fact it is a disclosure. According to dictionary.com, a ‘disclaimer’ is “the act of disclaiming; the renouncing, repudiating, or denying of a claim; disavowal” while a ‘disclosure’ is “the act or an instance of disclosing; exposure; revelation.” ‘Disclose’ is defined as “to make known; reveal or uncover” From a Marketing standpoint, a disclaimer is an admission that the headline is false – otherwise why renounce it? However, a disclosure provides secondary but relevant facts of an offer. So the only reason an offer or marketing communication would require a disclaimer is if it was misleading from the onset.



10/02/2020

PayPal: Selling Honey Requires a Key Ingredient

   This recent email from PayPal merits a couple Fails for Creative

PayPal Honey Offer. What is Honey?
PayPal Honey Offer. What is Honey? 

The email includes a Subject Line of "Get a $5 bonus for shopping smart with Honey." The headline reads "Give Honey a try. Spend $10, Get $5." Below that is a gif of a small box parachuting into a celebration, followed by a message reading, "When you add Honey to your browser for the first time, create an account, and spend $10 or more with PayPal, you'll get a $5 bonus. That's just the start of the savings. Honey members save over $126 annually." Below that are step-by-step instructions about how to install and use Honey, and a disclosure.

There is a clear Call to Action and an incentive for the customer to take action now. The email was sent on September 25 with an offer expiration date of October 4, so immediacy is encouraged. 

But, what is HoneyWhy would I add it to my browser? How do honey members save money, and compared to what? None of these questions are addressed in the email.

Based only on the email, one might guess that Honey is a rebate program or online savings account. In actuality, though, it is an online coupon provider. According to their home page, "Honey helps you find some of the best coupon codes on 30,000+ sites." That is Honey's value proposition, and it is missing from this email.

The other Fail is less important, but worth mentioning.  According to the disclosure and the detailed Terms & Conditions found on Honey's site, only 40,000 customers are eligible for the award. Once that limit is reached -- even if before offer the expiration date -- the reward will no longer be available. This type of restriction is fairly common in direct-to-consumer marketing. I've included number-of-customer limitations in several campaigns to ensure the product is not oversold or to cap potential incentive liability. When I did, I would use this clause to my advantage by communicating it in the body of the email. PayPal could do this by including above the Call to Action a message along the lines of...

Be one of the 40,000 people to get your $5 bonus by October 4th. Bonus must be used by October 31st.* 

or ... 


This exclusive bonus offer is limited to the first 40,000 people to take action by October 4th. Bonus must be used by October 31st.* 

This type of messaging approach not only makes the in-house lawyers happy by clearly communicating an offer restriction; it also communicates scarcity, which is a known factor to drive immediate action and increase response -- and that makes your manager happy.


Lessons:
  1. It is not enough to have a call to action and encourage immediacy in your direct-to-consumer emails. They should always include a value proposition.

  2. If your offer is limited to a specific number of customers, do not bury that restriction -- use it to your sales advantage.